Tim Southee continued his fine return to first class cricket
with a five-wicket bag today, leaving him set to don the
black cap in next month's test series against England.
Southee, New Zealand's best strike bowler, was sorely missed
during last month's two-test humbling in South Africa, with
an injured thumb keeping him on the sidelines for two months.
But the 24-year-old returned with a bang to the bowling
crease against Wellington in Whangarei, though his
performances with bat and ball is unlikely to be enough to
keep alive Northern Districts' chances of retaining the
Southee has the Knights well placed for a fourth-day win but
leaders Central Districts are on the verge of victory
themselves, which would leave CD and second-placed Otago the
only sides still in contention heading into next week's final
round of matches.
Whether Southee is involved in the last week of the
competition remains to be seen, with the seamer previously
indicating he would leave the timing of his return to the
national side in the hands of Mike Hesson and his staff.
Southee is unlikely to be rushed back into the set-up given
the Black Caps' strong seam stocks, but he has shown this
week he is well and truly recovered from the torn thumb
ligaments he suffered late last year.
He claimed 4-97 in Wellington's first innings before scoring
83 and being part of an invaluable 106-run partnership with
Daryl Mitchell (136) for the seventh wicket. That stand
helped ND make 510 and gave the Knights a lead of 87 runs - a
lead Southee immediately went to work defending.
He struck in the third over to remove Michael Papps and took
three of the first five wickets to fall as Wellington slumped
to 146-5. Southee returned to the crease to complete his 10th
first class five-wicket haul as Wellington were dismissed for
234, leaving ND to chase 148 tomorrow.
But, barring a dramatic collapse from Central Districts, the
outcome of that chase will be irrelevant. After ball had
repeatedly triumphed over bat in the first three innings -
with scores of 252, 249 and 255 - CD began their chase of 259
with a 145-run opening stand to take firm control against
Once the Wizards were dismissed at tea, leaving New Zealand
batsman Dean Brownlie unbeaten on 135, Jeet Raval and Jamie
How seized the initiative and raced toward their target at
Both were eventually dismissed - Raval for 59 and How for 81
from just 91 deliveries - but the damage had already been
done, and CD will begin tomorrow needing 103 runs with seven
wickets in hand.
Victory for the Stags will probably be matched by Otago,
leaving the Volts needing to make up a nine-point deficit in
the final round with 20 points available.
Otago nightwatchman Nick Beard's epic resistance finally came
to a close on 188 today, with his knock helping Otago declare
on 569-8 against Auckland. In reply, Auckland reached 202-4
and need a further 146 runs to make Otago bat again.